Social aspects of suicidal behavior and prevention in early life: a review

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2012 Mar;9(3):985-94. doi: 10.3390/ijerph9030985. Epub 2012 Mar 19.


Purpose: The present review summarizes the updated literature on the social aspects of suicidal behavior and prevention in adolescents.

Recent findings: The predictive role of psychiatric disorders and past history are well recognized in adolescent suicide, but the role of social and cultural factors is less clear. Studies have focused on the importance of ethnicity, gender, family characteristics, and socioeconomic status. More recently, attention has been addressed to broader social risk factors, such as bullying in adolescents, suicide contagion, sexual orientation, and the popular media. Further empirical evidence is needed to advance our understanding of suicidal youth, develop better assessment tools, and formulate effective prevention and treatment programs.

Summary: Suicidal behavior remains an important clinical problem and major cause of death in youth. Social factors may be at least as important as genetics. Advancing our understanding of underlying cultural and sociological issues in youth suicide will help clinicians achieve more efficient prediction, prevention and treatment.

Keywords: adolescents; bullying; cultural; risk factors; social; suicide.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Psychology, Adolescent
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Environment
  • Suicide / prevention & control*
  • Suicide / psychology*